Infuriated over alarmist chain messages circulating on WhatsApp that dissuaded her mother from getting the COVID-19 vaccine, one netizen is seeking file a complaint with both the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) against those who spread such messages.
“Really, I wanna slap all these conspiracy theorists and fear mongers who create all these fears and spread it via chat,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday (16 March).
“I doubt these stories are real and they’re just making the elderly fearful.”
The woman mentioned how her mother had just called her to say that she wasn’t going to get vaccinated because of these messages that she “gets all the time”.
“I feel like going over and taking her phone and deleting these few contacts even if they are relatives,” she vented.
The netizen also shared a couple of screenshots of these messages her mother had received.
One of them was an individual’s anecdote of their friend’s husband’s heart attack after he received the second dose of the vaccine.
The message claimed that the National University Hospital (NUH) “denied that it is linked to the vaccine”.
“They thought it was due to artery clog but there was no clog at all,” the message claimed, adding that “the virus has entered his heart and he had a heart attack”.
The message, dated 11 Mar, went on to say that the man did some research online and “found that taking the 2nd dose of vaccine can cause heart attack”.
It subsequently warned this person’s friend and her husband not to take the vaccine.
A follow-up message said that the story has been shared with permission and that the person the story was relayed to had a similar experience of a friend in her 60s getting a heart attack after recovering the second dose of the vaccine and had to be rushed to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
“That makes a total of 3 persons already,” the message read.
Another chain message that the netizen shared which her mother received and forwarded to her was titled “Breaking News from CNN”.
This one claimed that the doctor in China who “was punished for telling the truth about Corona Virus and later died due to the same disease”, Dr Li Wenliang, “had documented casefiles for research purposes and had in the casefiles proposed a cure that would significantly decrease the impact of COVID-19 Virus on the human body”.
It went on to claim that certain compounds found in coffee could “ward off” the virus in humans with an “average immune system”.
The message claimed that “(sic) The COFFEE plant creates these chemicals as a way to ward of insects and other animals”.
It also claimed that this is the reason that so many patients in China are “being cured” of COVID-19, as hospital staff there “started serving COFFEE to the patients 3 times a day”, which has
almost stopped” community transmissions in Wuhan — the epicentre of the virus when it first broke out.
The message ended with urging people to share the message with family and friends to “make them aware about this blessing in the form of COFFEE in your kitchen.”
The netizen, whose mother had forwarded these messages to her, dismissed these claims as rubbish and urged her mother not to believe such messages on WhatsApp.
Such messages have been circulating on social media and messaging platforms since the beginning of the pandemic, breeding doubt over the nature of the virus and now even the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.
For credible information on COVID-19 and its vaccines, members of the public are encouraged to refer to information from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation.